36 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Urbanized”

  1. Here’s some Fremont Bridge traffic trivia, as a follow-up to last week’s discussion of transit problems in Fremont.

    Average Weekday Traffic Over the Fremont Bridge in 1922/1929

    Street Cars: 1317 (1922)/1217 (1929)
    Passengers on Street Cars: 33,904/32,091
    Passenger Autos: 12,813/30,494
    Persons in Pass. Autos: 23,264/49,592
    Pedestrians: 726/488
    Teams: 22/0
    Stages: 165/115

    In 2009, the average traffic flow over the Fremont Bridge was 28,800 vehicles per day, which is less than the traffic count in 1929, so traffic and transit snarls are not a new phenomenon in Fremont. The solution in 1929 was to build the Aurora Bridge, which opened in 1932.

    Some other notes on the 1920s stats: the barn for the streetcars was located in Fremont, so it’s likely that many of the streetcar trips are deadhead run to/from the barn, *Teams* are horse-drawn vehicles and *Stages* are 1920s era rubber tired buses, most likely privately owned.

    1. Great info. Do those numbers include streetcar/interurban passengers who used the adjacent streetcar bridge? Also, do you have any info on the frequency of drawbridge raisings then vs now?

      1. What adjacent streetcar bridge? The Stone Way Bridge, which had carried streetcars, closed when the Fremont Bridge opened in 1917, and the Fremont Bridge carried streetcars from the get-go. (Did the 8th Ave RR bridge ever carry streetcars? Either way I think it was gone by ’22 anyway.)

      2. I take it back about the NP bridge being gone that early—looks like it wasn’t actually demolished until ’76(!). So it may’ve been active up until ’71 when rest of the SLS&E was. But I always thought it was just for freight.

    2. From the “Strolling Around” column in the 12 Mar 1959 edition of the Seattle Times:

      Bridge-Walkers Rare in Seattle
          To get very far in Seattle requires crossing bridges. Many thousands of Seattleites cross one or more bridges daily to get to work or to the downtown area.
          But few Seattleites in this mechanized age cross bridges on foot.
          About 52,650 automobiles, trucks, and busses cross the West Spokane Street Bridges on a normal week day. But bridge-tenders estimate only about ten persons cross on foot in an eight-hour period. A few are regulars, walking to work.
          Tenders on the First Avenue South Bridge say they have about half that much pedestrian traffic—five persons.
          The heaviest pedestrian traffic in the Seattle area is on the 16th Avenue South Bridge, hard by Boeing Airplane Co.’s Plant No. 2.
          Before and after shift changes about Boeing, workers overflow the bridge’s sidewalks. Some Boeing workers live in South Park, but most of the bridge-crossers walk only as far as their parked automobiles.
          The Montlake Bridge has more pedestrians than any other span across the Lake Washington Ship Canal.
          A tender estimates several hundred persons, mostly University of Washington students, walk across the bridge daily—some to avoid paying for parking on campus lots.
          Tenders at the University Bridge say not more than 200 persons walk across their bridge daily. Persons living near the Aurora Bridge say a lot of tourists and strollers walk across the bridge to admire the view during the summer, but only a few walk across at other times.
          The Fremont Bridge has about 150 pedestrians a day, its tenders estimate. Some are shoppers, some workmen and some Transit System patrons who want to save a nickel (the canal is the extra-nickel-zone boundary).
          The Ballard Bridge attracts only 30 or 40 pedestrians a day, its tenders estimate.
          But the bridge most shunned by pedestrians is the 6,561-foot Lake Washington Floating Bridge. One or two persons may walk across a day. Often the pedestrian is a serviceman hoping to hitch a ride east when he reaches Mercer Island.

    3. If Aurora was the answer in ’29, Holman Road was the answer in ’22. I stumbled upon an article in the 7/18/23 issue of the Times discussing plans for a new road to connect 15th Avenue Northwest diagonally to Country Club Road (Greenwood Ave) and North Trunk Road (Aurora/Woodland Park Ave).

      County engineers examining the tentative plans for the new diagonal highway pointed out today that it would be an increase of two miles into the main part of Seattle, over the present route by way of the Fremont Bridge. Advocates of the new road say that relieving the traffic congestion on the Fremont Bridge would nevertheless make the longer route popular.

      I’d always assumed Holman was built as a more direct route to Ballard from points north. Turns out it was built as a less direct route to Downtown! Who woulda thunk it?

      1. I think there is an old sign on Aurora Avenue in Shoreline indicating a “truck route to Ballard”–via Westminster Way.

      2. @Lightning – Ooh, thanks for pointing out Westminster. The map accompanying the 1923 story shows the proposed road going directly from 15th to Aurora, starting at 15th & 85th and hitting Aurora just south of Bitter Lake. I figured the portion between Greenwood and Aurora was just never built, but it just got bumped a little north. A King County ENGINEER MAP 18-26-4 (1931) shows that the road now known as Westminster Way was originally called “A. Holman Road”! Despite being 2 miles north of the other (and still) Holman Road, the Greenwood-to-Aurora road was clearly considered part of the same highway and thus presumably built for the same purposes—to ease congestion over the Fremont bridge. Obviously it would serve the purpose of also providing a direct route to Ballard (especially for trucks which can’t make right-angles too easily), but it’s neat to know that wasn’t the primary initial purpose. These days, though, pretty much anyone other than trucks is better off just staying on Aurora until someplace farther south (80th, 85th, 65th).

    4. Fascinating.
      Only 11,296 SOV’s compared to 19,098 HOV’s in 1929
      That’s encouraging people figured it out way back then.

  2. The more I discover about Kemper Freeman, the more I admire him. He walks to work, just like myself. He lives in a multi-family building. He lives in downtown Bellevue. No commuting for him. That’s very admirable. He’s part of the solution.

    1. No mention of bicycles unless they are considered pedestrians. The numbers are only for the Fremont Bridge.

      1. That was meta. You unintentionally feed a troll (responding in any way is feeding) while warning others not to feed a troll, then add your own troll comment.

  3. Looks like a great film. But at $20 for this screening, I might wait until more widespread distribution.

  4. Train 1604 (9:45 departure Tacoma) will be delayed for approximately one hour at Tukwila due to the President flying into Boeing field.

    This kind of thing is BS. There is no material risk whatsoever posed by a passing train whose schedule passengers don’t control.

    Why do we let our transit systems get shut down for an inconsequential risk?

    1. Have you no concept of the havoc a train load of terrorist could do?
      Note to self: Must screen everyone all the time.

    2. Tell that to the Secret Service.

      There are definitely rules about what kind of traffic can go near the President and NOT dictated by the transit agencies.

      1. It’s not like the train is parked in a known position or goes by at a known time. Nor does it go particularly close by the runway. It’s just not useful to an assasin or terrorist. It’s different than a car or van parked on the shoulder of I-5. It’s not a meaningful threat for them to shut down.

      2. Oran: Probably. When Clinton was President, Gore flew out of my hometown’s airport one night; listening to the scanner, the Approach controller had inbound traffic stacked up well away from the airport and wasn’t even permitted to tell those flights why they were being delayed.

    3. Security Theatre rules the nation now. I was stopped for about 45 minutes on Amtrak 500 back when GW Bush was POTUS and was arriving at BFI for some event or another – unnecessary and infuriating.

  5. Has anyone noticed that the new Bus stop sign at 3rd and Pine has already been damaged. Why do people feel the need to destroy public property. I will never understand.

  6. Thanks for letting us know about the film! I’m definitely going to the Portland screening on Thursday. It’s by the same director of Helvetica and Objectified, both awesome design-related documentaries.

  7. Last night I rode the 253 from a RapidRide station and discovered the following.

    (1) The 7am-7pm signs next to the ORCA reader are there.
    (2) The route map is lit up. I’m not sure if it’s a TV screen or just a light box.
    (3) The red “RapidRide” signs also light up so you can see the station from a few blocks away.
    (4) At each transfer point on the map, a popup lists the destinations (but not the routes).
    (5) Crossroads mall is called “Crossroads”, not “Crossroads Bellevue”.
    (6) The driver was complaining about the route changes with a few passengers, and predicted Metro will get a lot of complaints when buses start going to different places than people expect them to. “The 249 riders know it goes to the hospital. What are they going to think Saturday morning when they get on it and it goes somewhere else instead?”

      1. It just seems funny to me…the parallel with some people thinking that everyone should come to one centralized high priced place rather than using technology to present it locally (yet globally) to anyone as desired.

  8. China Mandates Sprawl!

    The ultimate social engineers (one family-one child) have decided to suburbanize their main city

    Beijing plans to move tens of thousands of downtown residents to the city’s suburban districts over the next five years to ease the overcrowded situation.

    Dou Shuling, deputy director of the Population and Family Planning Committee of Beijing’s Xicheng District, said Monday at a news briefing that 50,000 to 100,000 people in Xicheng District are expected to be relocated.

    Great idea. We should do that too.


    1. Isn’t Beijing like Manhattan? These suburban districts will probably look more like Seattle neighborhoods than Kent East Hill. China has been building tons of multifamily housing on farmland, but how many single-family neighborhoods has it built? Especially close to Beijing. If you talk about building a Kirkland outside Beijing, they’d probably look at the millions of underhoused urban migrants and think you’re crazy.

  9. Driverless car a decade away

    “It is similar to the beginnings of the computers: 40 years ago, only research labs could afford computers, now everybody is walking around with a computer in his pocket.”

    Ideally, the car will respond to orders by remote control, for example on an iPad or an iPhone.

    With a click or a touch, the passenger can call the car to his personal location and then order the car to drop him off at his desired destination.

    “This kind of car is actually perfect for car sharing,” said Rojas.

    “There will be no more need for owning a car – once the automobile has dropped off its passenger it will drive on to the next passenger.”


Comments are closed.